Jessica Bouzas Maneiro Beat Vondrousova at Wimbledon

Jessica Bouzas Maneiro
Jessica Bouzas Maneiro (Credit: Getty Images)

It is a gaze in orbit. And Jessica Bouzas bites at every shot, surprising, winning (6-4 and 6-2, in 66 minutes) and presenting herself in style. Dear tennis, here I am: in the Cathedral of Wimbledon, the court among the courts, and against the defending champion, Marketa Vondrousova. At 21 years old and 83rd in the world, the first bite in a major. “At first I was very nervous, but as the match progressed I felt better. And in the end, I was comfortable, like at home,” she smiles at the public in English, becoming the great protagonist of this rainy Tuesday in which the closed roof of the English centre multiplies the reverberation of the shouting.

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Bouzas had been offering some clues, proof that desire, conviction and stubbornness, as well as sacrifice, often lead to rewards. In the spring she reached the top 100 of the circuit for the first time and also achieved her first victory in the elite, against Paula Badosa in Madrid. The sowing that began as a child, when she began to hit the courts of Vilagarcia de Arousa, balls inflated like stuffed animals by the water, is now translated into results that little by little are granting her visibility. In any case, it was difficult to imagine the success at the centre, because of logic, but in tennis, logic sometimes tends to lose all meaning.

Bouzas had only played five matches on grass, the four she played last year at Wimbledon – three in the qualifying round and the first round – and the one she lost a few days ago at the Veneto Open (Italy) against the Romanian Anca Todoni, ranked 142nd in the world. However, against Vondrousova (25 years old and sixth strongest at the moment) two inverted dynamics coincide: her appetite and efficiency, and the sudden decompression of the Czech, who closes with seven double faults and 28 unforced errors, compared to the Spaniard’s 14. Reliability and enjoyment of the latter, with a smile from ear to ear. “I was thinking only about enjoying the moment. I just wanted to have a good time and play freely, and I have achieved that.”

The young Galician looks back and thinks that the effort, the sacrifices, leaving home at 13 to go to Xàbia – training at David Ferrer’s academy – and the subsequent move to Madrid, where she continues to grow, slowly but apparently with a firm step, have been worth it. She is now making herself known, and a victory against Cristina Bucsa or Ana Bogdan (next obstacle) would give her more flight in the rankings. Trained by Roberto Ortega for a year and a half, between the Chamartín Tennis Club and the facilities of the Madrid Tennis Federation (FTM), she has always found inspiration in the punch of Garbine Muguruza and off the court in reading.

The tennis books now say that she is only the second player to beat the previous year’s champion in the first round of London after the smash hit by American Lori McNeil in the 1994 edition against German Steffi Graf. So she celebrates, incredulous and at the same time with the unshakeable faith that has brought her to this point, glory in London. No small feat.

“I am very happy, this is one of the most important moments of my life, of my career, on this court, it is amazing. The atmosphere of this tournament is one of the most beautiful I have ever played in,” she says excitedly, still on the velvety green carpet of Centre Court. “I am surprised with myself, I was nervous at the beginning, but then everything was nice here, elegant, my first time here, on Centre Court… I am going to celebrate with my team, with whom I have lived through hard times; now I have to enjoy this one…”, concludes Bouzas happily, in full professional bloom; if she continues like this, another asset for the needy second unit of national tennis.

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